Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Musique concrete

 This article is part of the
Electronic music series.
 Electronic art music
 Musique concrete
 Industrial music
 Synth pop
 Techno music
 House music
 Trance music
 Drum and bass

Musique Concrète is the name given to a class of electronic music produced from editing together tape-recorded fragments of natural and industrial sounds. Concrète (as opposed to "Abstraite", traditional composition) was pioneered in the late 1940s and 1950s, spurred by developments in microphones and the commercial availability of the magnetic tape recorder.

Pierre Schaeffer, a Paris radio broadcaster, created some of the earliest pieces of Musique Concrète, including "Étude aux chemins de fer" ("Study with Trains"), "Étude au piano I" ("Piano Study I") and "Étude aux casseroles" ("Study with Baking Pans"). Each of these pieces involved splicing, speeding up, looping, and reversing recordings of sound sources like trains, piano and rattling cookware. Schaeffer also collaborated with another Musique Concrète pioneer, Pierre Henry. Together, they created pieces such as "Symphonie pour un homme seule" ("Symphony for a Man Alone").

Concrete was combined with other, synthesized forms of Electronic music to create Edgar Varèse's "Poème électronique". "Poème" was played at the 1958 Brussels World's fair through 400 carefully placed loudspeakers in a special pavilion designed by Iannis Xenakis.

After the 1950s, Concrete was somewhat displaced by other forms of Electronic composition, although its influence can be seen in popular music by many bands, including Pink Floyd. Traditional and non-traditional Concrete has experienced a revival in the 1980s and 1990s, although modern sampling technology is now often used in place of magnetic tape.

See also: Electronic art music